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Parish of Kingswood

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Notes for the Parish on returning to worship in church.

 

I apologise for the length of this message but it contains important information regarding our return to Sunday Worship in Church.  It covers in detail Services at the Wisdom of God at 9.30am and St Andrew’s at 11am from 16th August 2020.

In brief:

  • The wearing of facemasks is mandatory.
  • Please wait outside before being shown to your seat.
  • Numbers may be limited.
  • Please follow instructions from sides-people.
  • Do NOT attend if you have symptoms indicative of COVID-19.

We last met for Sunday worship in the parish on the 15th March, in what was a very different world to the one we find ourselves in today.  Some of us have been ill or may have lost loved ones.  All of us have likely struggled at some point with being unable to see and spend time with family, friends and colleagues, or to go about our normal day-to-day business in the communities where we live.

The government relaxed restrictions of use of church buildings for collective worship at the beginning of July.  The Churchwardens and I have been discussing what a return to our buildings for Sunday services might look like for a number of weeks.  With the blessing and affirmation of our Bishop and Area Dean we decided to continue our programme of online services and gatherings throughout the summer and plan for a possible return to our church building 16th August.

The pandemic is by no means over, and we’re therefore very much aware that whilst some people are eager to return to Sunday worship together, others may be understandably apprehensive and perhaps even scared of the potential dangers to health of being together indoors.  It’s important then to note at this point, that should enough people want to return to Sunday worship together in the building we will nevertheless continue to maintain an online presence: on Sundays we will record our service and post it online later each Sunday with the addition of a Book of Common Prayer Evening Prayer service with hymns for those who wish to sing as well. 

If you do plan to join us in church, it’s vital that we all play our part in ensuring one another’s safety.  The Church of England has produced stringent guidelines for how we can should do this, and we have carried out a detailed risk assessment to enable us to work out how this can be applied in our own church building.  Inevitably there will be areas of the church which are taped off in order to comply with the guidlines:

• When arriving please form a socially-distanced queue along the main footpaths towards the gate.  The door will be opened ten minutes prior to the service.  This will be the case whatever the weather, so please be prepared.  Equally, for ventilation we are required to leave our doors open throughout the service.

• The congregation will be admitted individually or in family units to maintain social distancing.  The wearing of face masks will be mandatory for all those above the age of 11 (unless you are in one of the government defined categories exempt from wearing a face covering).  If you can, please bring your own mask and put it on before entering the building.

• Upon entry you will be expected to use hand sanitiser which we will provide. Disposable masks will be available for those who have not brought their own.

• We will ask for your name and telephone number for NHS Track and Trace – details are stored for 21 days.  If you are already on the Electoral Roll we will just tick you off the list.

• You will then be shown to your seats which will be set out at socially-distanced intervals.  Please follow the instruction of sidespeople and do not move seats without their approval.  Families and bubbles will be able to sit together.

• We will admit worshippers according to physical distancing and Public Health requirements.  This does mean that there is a numerical limit to how many people we can safely accommodate, and it’s possible that we may need to turn people away.  

• There will be no hymns or worship songs for us to sing together.

• We plan to offer communion; this will be in one kind only (bread/wafer), and will be administered as hygienically as possible.  Please follow Rev’d Chris’s directions and those of the sidespeople.

• At the conclusion of the service, the congregation will be asked to leave row by row through the designated exit.  Please resist the temptation to congregate outside and be careful to maintain the 2m distance from others.

• The CoE guidelines state that ‘Certain groups of people may be at increased risk of severe disease from COVID-19, including people who are aged 70 or older, regardless of medical conditions. Individuals who fall within this group are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if they do go out, to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside of their household.’  The decision to attend public worship or not lies fully with the individual.

We have all been required to adapt quickly to the changing pattern of life, and the Church Wardens and I are extremely grateful for the ways in which so many of our church family have been able to embrace the various technological platforms that have enabled us to keep in touch, both on Sundays, and throughout the week with home group, Wisdom Stories and for administrative meetings.  Many thanks to all of you who have been willing to bless others through leading, reading, praying and encouraging one another during this time.  We hope to move carefully towards a more familiar normality, but we will do this slowly and cautiously, and in full accordance with government and Church of England guidelines.

If you’ve any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

We look forward to seeing you soon.